When we were little, my mom’s dad always insisted on buying us horses. He would find a great possibility somewhere and just know that this was the horse for us. Now it’s not like we didn’t have horses. We regularly rode with Dad and Grandad Marvin, rounding up cattle and moving them to another pasture. But there were not enough horses to go around and so Grandad Pat would always be on the lookout for a great “kid” horse.
Now I know that there is such a thing. Our neighbors down the road had an old white horse named Ball. You could ride him anywhere bareback and with no bridle. He would carry as many kids as could fit on his back. I don’t know if we ever got him out of a trot but he patiently endured games of rodeo and Wild West. And sometimes we’d have to coax him from the back of the pasture with a bucket of feed but Old Ball was a great horse! But a good kid horse is hard to find. If a kid broke the horse, you can bet that it’s not a well-trained and if the horse is small, it’s difficult for an adult to train. I went through at least two pinto ponies to learn this lesson.
If we were moving cattle, the ‘kid’ horse would inevitably balk, lagging behind everyone and try to brush it's rider (me) off by walking under a low-hanging tree limb, or roll over to scratch his back, or put his head down so the saddle slid up over his neck, dumping me on the ground in the process. One memorable moment, I was riding around our farm yard and he took off, sliding to a stop in front of an electric fence. And there I was, science in action, putting Einstein’s theory of relativity to the test. An object in motion REALLY remains in motion. I went sailing over his head, landing on the fence and my head. It was an electrifying experience.
But back to Trigger—the horse of the title. He was a spotted Shetland that Grandad Pat had found for my younger brother and sisters. He came with a miniature, kid sized saddle, a Roy Rogers saddle blanket and long curved hooves. This one had to be a good kid horse cause he couldn’t run far on his poor, sore feet! But Grandad was determined that with a good diet, and some judicious hoof trimming, Trigger would be a great horse! Who did he think was he kidding? You’d think my parents would learn but I guess the old saying’s true--You can’t look a gift horse in the mouth. And in our case it was true! You might get bit!
Truly, Trigger wasn’t so bad. He couldn’t run very fast and if you fell off, at least it wasn’t so far. My dad did finally get his hooves looking decent. And if we were riding in a group, Trigger was pretty well behaved. Just don’t head toward the barn! He endured a lot of leading around the yard and corral. He was short enough we could saddle him without help. He was pretty good with the bloating trick. Often the rider wouldn’t get very far before the saddle started to slide sideways as Trigger let the air out! We never did learn to cinch him tight enough!
As I said, Trigger was pretty good with the herd, but when anyone wanted to ride him by themselves, he had to be led. He only went one direction on his own—back to the corral! One afternoon, my brother and sister saddled him up. It was time to play cowboy. I was in the house and I heard yelling! I went out on the front porch and there was my littlest sister, Andrea, who was about 3 at the time, clinging like a monkey to Trigger’s saddle. He was racing around the yard--I had never seen him move that fast! David and Paula were running after him, trying to catch him. As he came running by the porch, Andrea launched herself off his back and straight into my arms! It was amazing! Trigger immediately trotted off toward the barn. I took Andrea inside and after she quit crying, she conked out on the couch. Poor kid.
Cowboying can really take it out of you.
Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.